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What you need to know for 01/21/2018

Student numbers likely to stay level in Niskayuna schools

Student numbers likely to stay level in Niskayuna schools

Student enrollment in the Niskayuna Central School District is expected to remain largely constant o
Student numbers likely to stay level in Niskayuna schools
Closing Van Antwerp Middle School is among the options being considered by the Niskayuna Central School District Board of Education.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

Student enrollment in the Niskayuna Central School District is expected to remain largely constant over the next five years, according to a new enrollment study commissioned by the district.

The study was undertaken as part of the district’s efforts to determine if it can better use its facilities by changing grade-level configurations or attendance zones or, in the extreme, closing a building.

The enrollment numbers, presented to the district’s Facilities Utilization Advisory Committee last week, suggest that the district’s total student population will remain around 4,100 students through the 2017-18 school year. Projections are that it will stay within 25 students of that number.

The grade-level breakdowns will see a little more fluctuation, according to the numbers. Grades K-5 are to see a low of 1,706 students in 2014-15 and a high of 1,808 in 2017-18. Grades 6-8 are to see a high of 1,014 in 2014-15 to a low of 936 in 2017-18.

One factor driving the overall projections is available land for building, analyst Joanna King, of the Capital District Regional Planning Commission, told the committee.

“You don’t have these giant tracts of land available for 200 new homes,” King said.

Niskayuna commissioned the study at a cost of $12,000, officials said. It was presented at the second meeting of the facilities advisory committee, which is to come up with a recommendation to the school board no later than Dec. 1 on what changes, if any, are needed.

The committee is made up of 40 people, many of them members of the public. It is being led by a hired facilitator, who gathers and presents needed information and keeps the process on track, officials said.

Sean Brady, president of Prism Decision Solutions, of Binghamton, led last week’s meeting. The contract with Prism is for $17,000.

The committee was born out of last spring’s contentious budget process as the board worked to close a large budget gap. Talk turned to possible closure of a school. At that point, though, officials said it was too late in the process to properly consider the idea.

Superintendent Susan Kay Salvaggio said the committee is following board policy for considering school reconfiguration or closure, and there is still much to do to consider all of the options,.

“It is only the second meeting, so we have a long way to go,” she said.

The next meeting is set for Sept. 23, with meetings also scheduled Oct. 9 and 17. The meetings will run from 5 to 9 p.m. in the Niskayuna High School media center. They are open to the public.

At the Sept. 23 meeting, the committee is expected to finalize decision criteria, develop more specific information on each building and grade configuration options and come to a consensus on three to five options to compare against the criteria, officials said.

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